Submission title

Indigenous or Pretender









In the fall of 2021, CBC Saskatchewan published a story that sparked an international conversation about identity fraud. Reporter Geoff Leo’s 2 1/2-month-long investigation revealed Dr. Carrie Bourassa, one of the most celebrated Indigenous academics in the country, was in fact of European ancestry. For more than two decades, Bourassa had made an ever-growing list of claims about her roots, saying she was Metis, Anishinaabe and Tlingit. She rose quickly through the ranks of academia, eventually being named the Scientific Director of the Indigenous arm of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The CBC investigation sent shockwaves across the country and beyond. At first, the University of Saskatchewan and the CIHR defended the professor, but within days, both institutions changed course. Bourassa was dismissed from her role at CIHR, and the issue lives on — seven universities across Canada launched investigations and set up better policies to identify and root out identity fraud. A new national organization of Indigenous university leaders was created. As Indigenous Professor Winona Wheeler made clear, “This is theft. It is colonialism in its worst form and it’s a gross form of white privilege.”